I have had a love-hate relationship with books and reading in general. I experience severe dyslexia and as a child, my family could not understand my challenges with reading and spelling. It wasn’t until the year before attending NYU, did we seek help. Knowing I was a bright student in many other subjects, I felt it was time to find out what was going on. After many tests and months of examinations at The Lewis School in Princeton N.J., I was diagnosed as have a major learning difference, or, another term I prefer, “right-brain dominance.” Determined not to allow a label to hold me back, I studied, worked hard, graduated from the university of my dreams, and became an author of three titles.

I am grateful for this experience; as a writer and lover of books, I have many favorites with their unique reasons why I hold each dear and near. Compiling my 10 Best was both a challenge and a blessing. I would choose a book and it would spark a memory of another. Every choice had an equal or greater companion, and most could have made the list for one reason or another. Then there are the authors with a series of books, that I wanted on my list because they are amazing teachers.

What I loved about this project was the inventory required. It was a time to reflect on what each author and book has taught me. Through introspection and contemplation, the choices became clear by the vibration and feelings each book delivered. Through touch, smell, and memory, my 10-Best started to evolve. I made a conscious decision to only choose the books I could physically hold in my hands, which narrowed the choice down quite a bit. During this digital age, it is easy not to purchase a book to hold. If I download a title I love, I make a point to purchase a handheld copy as well. Books and authors have been my greatest teachers and I am honored to be a part of this project.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
by Maya Angelou

As a child, I experienced severe dyslexia. and reading was a major challenge. This was the first book of leisure ever finished as an adult. Because “I Know Why…” was such an easy read, I could not put it down. When I found myself taking a break to sleep or go to work, I was longing to find out what happened to young Maya and her older brother. Her journey became my journey. Although the circumstances were different, I could relate to the themes Maya used to teach the lessons I need to learn.

“I Know Why…” is a book that talks about the challenges of learning as a child of color in the racist south. There was an instant connection, not only because of my race but because I also struggled with literacy throughout my primary education. Maya Angelou freely writes about the sexual abuse she experienced as a child, which led to her decision not to speak for five years. Her account allowed me to begin my healing process around my own experiences.

The greatest lesson for me is the theme of freedom. Throughout the book, Ms. Angelou talks about her experience of racism. But it was the power of words and language that freed her mind, allowing her soul to sing. She taught me to rise above my circumstances. She introduced me to the principle “Words Have Power.” I fell in love with Maya Angelou because of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” and have read almost everything she has written. She is and will always be a teacher and inspiration.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Politics aside; this is my all-time favorite memoir. The life of Michelle Obama inspires me to live and be the best person I can be. The journey she shares from childhood to wife, to mother, to First Lady is mind-blowing. Reading this book, multiple times, reminds me of what greatness looks like. Chapter after chapter, Michelle Obama brings the mastery of verse; a true wordsmith. Every page is a “turner.” It reads like a novel, waiting to be scripted for a film.

The perfect read for me is when I can experience the book with the author. The way Michelle Obama shares her life, reading it I felt as if I was walking the path with her. “Becoming” reminded me of the importance of family and how sacred my loved ones are. The storytelling of her ancestors and family brought tears to my eyes. The loss of her father reminded me of my departed family members. I was virtually transported to her wedding day and I relived the celebration of the inauguration of Barack.

“Becoming” is an inspiration and a personal invention for greatness.

Life Visioning

by Michael Bernard Beckwith

I received the physical copy of “Life Visioning” on January 13th, 2012. But because I have been a student and a mentee of Michael Beckwith since 2006, I had been practicing “Life Visioning” for a long time before it’s arrival. This book is my personal “go-to” for discovering the next phases of my life. Every time there is a desire to shift my paradigm and rediscover my life’s calling, “Life Vision” has been an access point for my evolution. This book introduced me to the “4 Stages of Evolutionary Growth.” Stage 1 – Victim Consciousness, stage 2 – Manifester Consciousness, stage 3 – Channel Consciousness. and stage 4 – Being Consciousness.

“Life Visioning” gave me the language to articulate what I was experiencing as a spiritual being having a human incarnation. Michael’s “Life Visioning” as a spiritual technology helped me to reveal my life’s calling and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Invisible Supply: Finding the Gifts of the Spirit Within by Joel S. Goldsmith

Invisible Supply was the first book I studied that focused on abundance and prosperity, not just as material but as a conscious awareness. When I teach classes on prosperity, this book is required reading for my students.

As a minister, many of my clients arrive at my office with financial challenges. Because I am not immune to challenges in this area, I get to share what I use for financial spiritual growth. Every word, sentence, and paragraph are a tool for expanding one’s paradigm, everything I desire comes from within me. “Invisible Supply” helps me to take full spiritual responsibility for manifesting the life I want. My favorite Joel Goldsmith quote comes from Invisible Supply. “If we individually experience a lack, it is not because of any actual lack. It is because of our inability to make contact with our supply.”     Enough said!

The Energy Codes

by Sue Morter

The question I am asking myself is, “Where to begin?” The Energy Codes is so rich with spiritual, but particlular way to understand energy. As a yoga student and instructor, The Energy Codes has been instrumental in how I comprehend and teach the Chakra System. Sue Morter invites me to expand beyond intellect and have an experiential awakening.

The Five Truths in The Energy Codes have transformed my life from “pain to bliss,” as Sue has written. 1. Everything is energy. 2. Your life is energy. 3. You are the creator of your life. 4. Your creation -your life – is always expanding. 5. The purpose of your life is to discover your creatorship. Once I embraced and fully lived the five truths, my life expanded beyond my wildest dreams. The Energy Codes”transformed my life, physically, mentally and spiritually.

The Seat of the Soul
by Gary Zukav

The first time I was introduced to Gary Zukav and “The Seat of the Soul” was back in 1989 during a broadcast of the Oprah Winfrey Show. When Gary spoke, he was speaking truth to my soul, but I was not ready for the journey of awakening. In 2014, this spiritual treasure celebrated 25 years of publication. You know the old saying, “You get it when you are ready”? Well, I was ready. This book cracked me wide open, allowing me to uncover deep-rooted blocks that stymie my spiritual growth. The Seat of the Soul helped me to feel, deal, and heal issues that I had chosen to cover up and try to forget. Through this book, I became aware of my personality as a part of my soul wanting to be healed. Gary writes, “When the personality comes fully to serve the energy of its soul, that is authentic empowerment.”  What a powerful teaching to remember and live every day.

Between the World and Me

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I love a good book that challenges my paradigm, offering a new way to experience life. Between the World and Me, is a masterpiece in the form of a letter to the author’s son. This book is a journey of racial introspection that makes me question my perspective and understanding of race relations in America. This brilliantly crafted non-fiction brings to light Ta-Nehisi’s concerns for his son, growing up in a racist country. Toni Morrison, one of my favorite authors that did not make my list, said, and I quote, “I’ve been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died. Clearly, it is Ta-Nehisi Coates.” I agree! Coates reminds me of Baldwin’s swagger and poetic mastery.

Between the World and Me is an odyssey of a young man from the streets of Baltimore becoming a New York Times Bestselling author. I read this book in one day. I was deeply moved to tears as Coates explained his love of American history and how slavery has affected our present social culture. The accounts of his education at Howard University left me envious of the HBCU (historically black university) experience. Ta-Nehisi took me on his first, unforgettable trip to Paris that made me utter an audible statement, “The next time I am in France, I am going to Paris.” Some authors have a skill in non-fictional storytelling and Between the World and Me is a masterclass in the art of the narrative.

The Color Purple
by Alice Walker

In 1984, The Color Purple was the book to read. Every bookstore – back in the day when there were bookstores – promoted and sang the praises of Alice Walker and The Color Purple. Honestly, I did not have time or the desire to read anything outside of my high school junior year required reading list. The following year, the movie was released and instantly became (and still is) my favorite movie of all time. The next day I bought the book, began to read, and I was hooked from the first two sentences: “You better not never tell nobody but God. It’d kill your mammy. Dear God…” From that moment I made the agreement with myself to fully embrace the journey that Alice Walker intended me to travel.

When I completed the book, I wept tears of joy, sorrow, connection, and empowerment; a myriad of emotions overwhelmed me. The previous film experience became so much more, and I had a greater understanding of why I loved it so much. The Color Purple is important because it teaches so many lessons of love; self-love, love beyond labels, family love, the desire to be loved, the love of freedom, forgiven through love, the redemptive power of love. My favorite quote from Alice Walker’s creation gives me my greatest life lesson: “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” We must learn to take the time to appreciate and be grateful for life.

The Gifts of Imperfection
by Brené Brown

The subtitle says it all: “Letting Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.” Another one of Oprah’s many book club inspirations, The Gifts of Imperfection helped me to understand perfectionism and how it was standing in the way of me experiencing meaningful and authentic relationships.

In 2010 I was in a committed relationship with someone I loved deeply, but I was not happy. During our conscious un-coupling, I was introduced to Brené’s book; literally a gift for my healing. She told my story of self-shaming, blaming others, and feeling unloved. Brené invited me to see that everything I considered to be an imperfection was a divine blessing. The Gift of Imperfection is one of my greatest tools for living a vulnerable and authentic life.

The Miracle of Mindfulness

by Thich Nhat Hanh

The Miracle of Mindfulness was my first book on mediation. In 2006 I began my journey to becoming a minister. As a student of New Thought Spirituality, meditation became my foundational practice for transformation. During a class on meditation, “he Miracle of Mindfulness was required reading and I instantly fell in-love with Thich Nhat Hanh’s simple approach to a practice that often left me confused and frustrated. This book gave an understanding of the practice I had not heard before.

The Miracle of Mindfulness is filled with lessons, practices, principles, stories, and parables that reveal the blessings of meditation.